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Individual utility in a context of asymmetric sensitivity to pleasure and pain: an interpretation of Bentham's felicific calculus

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  • Andr Lapidus
  • Nathalie Sigot

Abstract

This paper aims at exploring, in a formal way, Bentham's statement that 'the pleasure of gaining is not equal to the evil of losing', which belongs to those aspects of the principle of utility left aside by Jevons' reconstruction. Consequently, the agent's preference order will be viewed as depending on his initial situation, and on asymmetric sensitivity to gains and losses, relative to this situation. This leads 1) to discuss the coexistence of multiple preference orders, illustrated by Bentham's analysis of the optimal labour contract; and 2) to introduce true deliberation as a consequence of the gap between positive choice and rival assessments of utility.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Volume (Year): 7 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 45-78

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Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:7:y:2000:i:1:p:45-78

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Related research

Keywords: Bentham Endogeneous Preferences Individual Utility Pain And Pleasure Preference Reversal Utilitarianism;

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References

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  1. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
  2. Holt, Charles A, 1986. "Preference Reversals and the Independence Axiom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 508-15, June.
  3. Nathalie Sigot, 1993. ""Be Quiet" mais modérement : le rôle de l'Etat dans la pensée économique de Jeremy Bentham," Post-Print hal-00578352, HAL.
  4. Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279.
  5. Tversky, Amos & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Anomalies: Preference Reversals," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 201-11, Spring.
  6. Grether, David M & Plott, Charles R, 1979. "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 623-38, September.
  7. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  8. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1982. "Regret Theory: An Alternative Theory of Rational Choice under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 805-24, December.
  9. Machina, Mark J, 1987. "Choice under Uncertainty: Problems Solved and Unsolved," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 121-54, Summer.
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Cited by:
  1. A. Baujard, 2006. "From moral welfarism to technical non-welfarism : A step back to Bentham’s felicific calculus of its members," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 200606, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.

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